To HP or not to HP


February 5, 2009, 12:00 PM
I am a revolver fan, owner, shooter, hunter and have had little experience in owning semi-autos (1 FEG PPK clone in .380 and 1 Llama full size 1911 clone in .45).

I have been financially preparing to make another handgun purchase in the coming months and feel that it should be a semi-auto (unless a collectible Colt beauty falls my way). I have long been an admirer of John Browning's high capacity design brought to life as the High Power by Dieudonne Salve.

I like the feel, the 13 round mag., the classic looks. I would like to hear from those with experience with this classic, pros and cons. I have an opportunity for what may be a collector grade Belgian made with original rug and papers for a starting price of $750.00. Of course some later models are available for somewhat less, even one in .40. What say ye?

Too fragile for today's defense loads?

Comments on the factory sights?

Problems with extraction unless perfectly clean?

Reliably feeding hollow points?:confused:

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February 5, 2009, 12:19 PM
Get the HP. I have one in .40 and it's my second favorite auto after the 1911. It's a beautiful gun, and although the trigger is heavier than I like I still shoot it better than the more modern offerings from Glock, CZ, and Smith & Wesson. It's true that the HP is heavy, but I can't carry anyway and I like the solid feel of an all-steel gun. Hi Powers have an outstanding record of reliability, so you don't need to worry there.

February 5, 2009, 12:25 PM
I'm a big believer in purchasing handguns that fit you and not forcing yourself to learn to fit it. Any handgun that you intend to defend your life with should point naturally.

That said, the BHP fits my hand like I formed in the womb with it. I also think it, along with the CZ75, is the most elegant semi ever made.

I've used one in classes and competitions and they've proven to be reliable and accurate. I also carry one IWB at times and have no qualms about it's performance with self defense loads. It may not handle the exceptionally high pressures of thousands of rounds of 9mm subgun ammo, but then I'm not shooting that. It does happily handle all the other SD fodder I've fed it.

February 5, 2009, 12:29 PM
The MK III Hi Power is stronger than the older T or C series. Its fine for +p or Euro spec ammo as well as hollow points. You can get higher cap mags for it also if you so desire, however, 13+1 is fine for me.

February 5, 2009, 12:43 PM
I bought a Browning HP about 15 years ago, before I knew much about its history and mystique. It simply felt good in my hand, and the $400 price was right. I had some problems right off the bat. Failures to eject, double-fires, jamming. But after a breaking-in period and more experience in using it (and not limp-wristing it) I haven't had any problems. The early troubles shook my confidence at first, but since then it has been flat reliable.

I keep it loaded with +P hollowpoints, but I don't feed it a steady diet of those. It feeds regular hollowpoints without problems, though most range work is done with cheaper hardball. I don't know about dirt causing problems with extraction, but that's because I keep the thing clean. It's mostly concern about the deep bluing that makes me clean it after each use. It has probably been used by more armies around the world than any other sidearm over the past 70 years, and soldiers aren't always fanatics about cleaning their weapons.

The factory sights are pretty punk, but I'm not a long-distance marksman. The sights are plenty good enough at 20 paces, which is about the longest shot I'd ever expect to make. The factory safety on mine slips into "Fire" position too easily, which makes me nervous about carrying it in Condition One, but a thumb break holster solves that.

It's an elegant piece of gear and it's the only pistol that I would never give up.

February 5, 2009, 05:01 PM
A good, solid MkIII HP will have exactly "0" of the problems you listed. Get one.

February 5, 2009, 08:57 PM
I had one years ago and in a fit of pure stupid sold it (Ughhhh!) so last week I had to pick up a replacement. It is after the 1911 the best darn handgun on the planet.

mr. e
February 5, 2009, 11:16 PM
HP triggers right out-of-the-box are probably some of the worst on the market. Heavy and gritty.

Removing the mag safety helped a lot, but it really took a good gunsmith (Sandy Garrett in Springfield, VA) to make it right. Now my HP 40 cal. is my second favorite 40 (next to an STI Edge that cost twice as much).

February 6, 2009, 01:01 PM
One thing you will notice, as you search after-market dealers for accessories for the Hi Power, there is very little to choose from.

To me that signifies how perfect a Hi Power is right out of the box.

My name is BikerRN and I carry a 40 Hi Power. :)

Mine has been reliable from the "git go" and the only failures have been shooter induced. I do think it requires more frequent spring changes than other pistols, but that's because I want to keep mine for a long time.

Mr. Stephen Camp has a website dedicated to the Hi Power, and I think it's worth the trouble to visit, if I were you. Lots of questions can be answered about the Hi Power by reading the material there.


February 6, 2009, 01:39 PM
Thanks BikerRN and all others. That is a good website by Camp. I'll update when the decision comes in!

February 8, 2009, 12:25 AM
I carried this old P-35 in Africa when colonialism broke down and things got unpleasant in the 50's.

This pistol was produced in Belgium prior to WWII. I bought it in Algiers in like new condition when that country was still a French colony and carried it 24-7 for a couple of years in frequently ungodly circumstances and conditions from the Congo to the Sahara.

You can see that much of the checkering on the grips was worn off by hard and frequent use. And the bluing is not nearly as good as it looks in the photo. This pistol was extremely reliable. If it ever had a jam or any other failure, I don't remember it. Of course the only ammo available was WWII FMJ.

I have two other beautiful HP's that I bought in the late 60's, but this is the one I prize for reasons that are not altogether sentimental.

The Belgium HP is a fine pistol. I have no experience with the later models and clones.

February 8, 2009, 12:38 AM
Very classic piece of shooting iron, there, OwlHoot.

February 8, 2009, 10:35 AM
I've been a 1911 fan for a long time and came across a like-new FEG Hi Power at a really good price. Like you, I wanted to check out other JMB designs.

The FEG was fantastic, and I expected the "real deal" to be even more so. My wife came across a LNIB 1972 Browning HP from the original owner... it was my Christmas present. The pistol was in almost perfect shape. The seller had the original Browning case, grips (painted red inside), mags, manual... and his original receipts (store receipt, credit card receipt and a lay-away deposit).

I had some problems with the thumb safety... the spring was worn out, presumably from sitting for 37 years. Either way, it worked, but didn't engage and disengage with any authority. I liked the safety on the FEG, so I took the FEG safety and put it on the HP. I ordered a new safety from Charles Daly ($32) and will put that on the FEG when it arrives. No worries, I have the original safety in a baggie along with the original magazines and manual in the pistol case, so the gun can go back to original in no time.

There's a guide to the nuts and bolts of the Hi Power available from a moderator here. His name is Stephen A. Camp, and his site is ... This is a must-have if you ever plan on doing anything more involved than a field strip.

Take a peek at these pictures.


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